Riverbank City Manager Jill Anderson will be leaving Riverbank this month to advance her life personally and professionally, which includes accepting the City Manager position in Chehalis, Washington. Anderson’s last day will be on Thursday, Aug. 25 and the interim City Manager position will be held by the city’s Director of Finance, Marisela Garcia.
After four-and-a-half-years of service to the City of Riverbank, Anderson can look back on a number of projects accomplished in a collaborative effort with city staff and the city council. She began her career in Riverbank at the end of February 2012 when the city was recovering from political, administrative, and economic turmoil due to the recession.
“Everybody was feeling tired and concerned from a lot of that turmoil that had happened,” said Anderson. “But I think they were hopeful too. I was hopeful and I think the council was hopeful along with the staff that things would change.
“And they have in part because of my approach and in part because a lot of people were committed to moving forward in a positive way.”
Anderson originally served under former Mayor Virginia Madueno and will end her time in Riverbank under Mayor Richard O’Brien along with councilmembers Darlene Barber-Martinez, Cal Campbell, Leanne Jones Cruz, and Jeanine Tucker.
“This is an incredibly professional and committed city council,” stated Anderson. “They have worked diligently together for strategic planning, creating a common vision and working towards that vision. I believe it has been a great partnership.”
The economic downturn due to the recession caused many challenges for the first time city manager when she arrived on the scene. Anderson explained that she had to do more with fewer people but the staff rose to the challenge and have completed past projects and are now on to new ones.
“We have eight housing developments going on in the city right now,” added Anderson. “There is interest in doing long-term planning to look at what the next 20 years will look like because there is so much going on within the city limits.
“So that process has started and LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) on July 27 approved the city’s expanded sphere of influence so we could do that long term planning for quality growth over time.”
Crediting the staff with working diligently and completing several projects during her tenure, Anderson has a long list of accomplishments like the downtown specific plan, completion of a Nexus fee study, an urban water management plan, a drought tolerant landscaping policy, the housing element, and a number of general plan amendments, just to name a few.
The rate structures for water and sewer were reviewed and rate adjustments were made that Anderson explained were necessary to continue general services like police and parks and recreation.
Anderson had to go through the process of a special election and she gave a lot of credit to City Clerk Annabelle Aguilar and Administration Analyst II Norma Torres-Manriquez along with the council for how well they handled that.
The city took on the Cheese and Wine festival during her time as City Manager as well, which she states was a huge task for the city that Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick has stepped up to help plan and implement with the event coordinator.
“One of the things that Jill has been very good at is supporting the City Council in strategic planning, developing goals and making sure we have the building blocks to meet each one of the goals,” stated Mayor Richard O’Brien. “She is tenacious in getting the job done correctly.”
Watching staff blossom and take on projects has been a highlight for Anderson during her time at the city.
“Marisela earned this (interim City Manager position) and has worked really hard,” stated Anderson. “She has paid her dues and she prepared herself both with her education and taking on projects so she would be in a position to be named the interim city manager. So I give her great credit for that.”
Garcia has worked for the City of Riverbank for the past 19 years and has worked her way up through the ranks. She has worked closely with Anderson during the last four years.
“She saw that in me and gave me a lot of opportunity and mentored me in a lot of ways so I think that kind of paved the way a little to me becoming the interim city manager,” stated Garcia. “I am excited about the opportunities that Riverbank has only because we have seen it grow so much and we are excited about where it is going to continue growing.”
The law offices of Churchwell White LLP will conduct the permanent City Manager replacement process including putting out the advertisements, collecting the applications and providing them to the city council. The city council will then select the final candidates and will conduct interviews to select the top three candidates. After a reception and with input by the community, the city council will determine which candidate will be the best for the city manager permanent position.
For her part, Anderson said her time here provided valuable growth and skills development that helped her secure the new assignment in Washington.
“They have set a vision and have provided broad general policy direction that has been clear and I have been given the direction needed to lead the city organization to make that vision a reality and while we all know there is a lot of work to be done to fill that vision completely I feel very proud in the work the city council, staff, and I have accomplished over the last four years,” Anderson said.